VANUATU has launched a new animal health database that will aid the country’s efforts to comply with international trade requirements.
Launched last week by Carolyn Ernst, Chairlady of the Vanuatu Livestock Industry Working Group and Nambo Moses, Senior Livestock Officer with the Department of Livestock, the new database will enable staff members of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB) to collate and store information on animal populations, disease surveys including management needs and the scale, type and location of farms and enterprises from which the animals are sourced.
The development of the database, known as LAEFSTOK WAJ, was made possible through a collaboration between the Department of Livestock and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program, an initiative of the Australian Government, co-funded by the New Zealand Government.
Although an access-based database had been in place since the early 2000s, its functions were limited and the database was not used consistently. In the absence of a proper database system, disease surveillance information was often collected and stored in ad hoc spreadsheet systems and collated manually for reporting purposes. This limited Vanuatu’s ability to meet required international standards in animal health surveillance reporting requirements.
To address the Livestock Industry Working Group’s need for a database, PHAMA initiated several scoping meetings with stakeholders to discuss and explore available options. An IT consultant was contracted to work with representatives from the Vanuatu Veterinary Services to review the technical fields and reporting functionalities of the existing database.
The review concluded that re-developing the existing database was the most cost-effective option and recommended that a review of existing and available platforms as well as the location of the database be considered to ensure it was accessible and reliable to meet the needs of stakeholders.
The database has since been redesigned and re-developed, with appropriate training delivered to staff members of the MALFFB and Department of Livestock. The launch of the database last week coincided with the opening of the Vanuatu Government’s livestock breeding centre.
PHAMA’s support of this activity is aligned with its objective to build the capacity of the public and private sectors to seek new markets, and maintain and improve access to existing international markets.